Feeding Young Weaned Rabbits (Kits)
It is very important to allow young
animals to develop their skeletal and musculature structure prior to
conditioning for show. Rabbits with
a strong physical foundation will be
more likely to attain their full potential
and will live more productive, longer,
and healthier lives. Therefore, DO NOT
force young rabbits to gain weight quickly
or overfeed, as both can be detrimental
to their health.  

Young rabbits should be fed a diet that contains adequate protein (at least 16%) and that is low in energy (carbohydrates). This helps regulate the amount of fat that is deposited in the body. A rabbit that deposits too much fat will have a much softer body condition than desired as well as have increased health risks.

Many experts also agree that supplemental feeds are not beneficial in young rabbits. The addition of a fiber source to your pelleted feed can serve to reduce enteritis (stomach problems) and aid natural digestion. A grass hay should be used since it is higher in fiber and lower in protein and energy than legume hay (such as alfalfa). However, other additional supplements and nutrients tend to produce negative effects in young rabbits and may lead to complications such as diarrhea, dehydration, or poor development.

When feeding your kits, you can give grass hay in free or limited access, as a source of fiber in addition to the base feed. You could also choose to feed the kits pellets in the morning and hay in the evening. Regardless of which method you choose, be sure to only feed as many pellets as the rabbit will eat within 20-30 minutes.   

It is important to keep in mind that all parts of a rabbit’s body do not develop in the same proportions. As rabbits develop into adults they will undergo an “awkward” stage of growth before one can accurately determine their show potential due to their anatomical proportions. With this in mind, it is always best to wait till a rabbit is old enough to properly judge its characteristics.

An older rabbit it also more tolerant of environmental changes and can better withstand changes in its feed, as part of the conditioning process. Once a rabbit has matured, supplements can then be added to the ration in order to enhance the fur condition. The next section will discuss conditioning your adult rabbit.